My only experience with cohabitation was pretty rough, but it did teach me that there's a few things you'll only learn about someone by living together. Some of these things will undoubtedly be pleasant, and some of them will probably suck, but all of them are things you need to know if you're going to have your relationship become more serious. Personally, given my own personality and experiences, I don't think I could ask my partner to move in with me until we'd been dating for years, (yes, years), because living together isn't easy. But to me, it's still a crucial step to take before marriage, because living with your partner allows you to get to know them in important, new ways.
Plus, it can be really fun at times. When you and your partner move in together, Netflix and chill becomes a way of life, it's much easier to fall asleep after watching The Walking Dead, and you find a whole new appreciation for your alone time. So if you and your partner have decided to give cohabitation a shot, don't let my bad experience dampen your excitement. This is a huge step you're taking, and I'm happy for you two! That said, you might want to brace yourself — because no matter how well you think you know them, you're about to find out that there are some things you'll only learn about your partner by living together.
1. How Clean They Are
If you and your partner have been dating for awhile, then you might think you know how clean they are, but trust me, you don't. My ex used to keep his dorm room super tidy, and he even picked up after himself somewhat when he'd come visit me at my apartment, too. When we started living together, though, I found out he was actually pretty messy — and it bugged the hell out of me.
It's easy to clean up after yourself when you're a guest in someone's home, and before your partner moves in with you, they're basically a guest. A very special, sexual guest, perhaps, but a guest nonetheless. Once you start sharing a space with them, though, they're not a guest anymore. This could mean they'll be just as messy as they would be if they were living alone, or it might mean they'll go full Monica Gellar on you. But there's no way to truly know until you've unpacked those moving boxes.
2. How They Really Feel About The Roles You Should Fulfill Around The House
If you're a woman in a heterosexual relationship with a man, most of this comes down to whether or not your partner is so subtly sexist that you don't realize how sexist he is until you move in together. Once you're shacked up, subtle sexism — about who should take care of what chores, for example, or how you should act when you're relaxing around the house — may rear its ugly head. And the same could go for you — you might be shocked to discover that you have sexist expectations regarding how a man should act or the duties he should fulfill around the house.
Even if you're in a same-sex relationship, however, I still think this applies. Many people grow up watching one parent do way more housework than the other. So if you or your partner grew up with one parent doing all the domestic stuff, and the other parent doing all the financial stuff, then it's easy to expect that your partnership will work in the same way, even if you're not in a heterosexual relationship.
3. If They Keep Groceries In The House
Even if you and your partner spend a lot of time together, you don't truly know them until you share a grocery bill. Before he moved in with me, my ex stayed the night at my apartment almost every single night for nine months; and yet, I still never realized how much he could eat until we started living together. I'd buy $200 worth of groceries on a Friday, and they'd be completely gone in just a few days. Conversely, you may find out that your partner is someone who keeps such a well-stocked kitchen that you literally never run out of coffee or flour, and there's always a new, delicious snack waiting in the fridge. There's just no way to truly know until all your food is in the same cupboard.
4. How Responsible They Are With Money
I don't care how well you think you know your partner or how long the two of you have been dating, you won't really know how responsible (or irresponsible) they are with money until you start depending on them to pay half your rent.
I mean, you can sort of tell if your partner's financially responsible before living with them, just by paying attention to their daily life. If they constantly complain about being broke, but they also eat out every day, that's a pretty good indicator that they're not great with money — but you can't know for sure if they'll prioritize your mutual bills over their personal luxuries until you have mutual bills to pay. Similarly, you might know your partner is incredibly organized with their cash — but you won't really understand it until the end of that first month, when they start sending you spreadsheets of your monthly household expenses "just for fun."
It's certainly not all negative, though — sometimes, learning about our partner's true financial habits can help us change ours for the better. If we see our partner squirreling away every spare dollar to save for the future, for example, it becomes way tougher to justify impulse shopping and ordering takeout every night.
5. How They Really Feel About Having Your Friends Over
I get that couples don't wait until they're living together to start complaining about each others' friends (Unfortunately, I think most couples get to that point within just a few months of dating). When you start sharing a home, though, you might learn that your partner dislikes some of your friends more than you thought. Even if your partner loves all your friends as much as you do (and I hope that's the case), that doesn't mean they'll want to have people over as often as you do — or vice versa. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though; it just means you'll both have to hone your relationship compromise skills.
And that can be one of the best aspects of sharing a home with someone you really care about — learning to compromise not because you think that you have to, but because you genuinely feel that making sure your partner feels happy is more important than making sure you get everything you want, every single time.
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